Give Meaning to Your Life: Coherence between Values and Actions

by | 20/03/2018

Give Meaning to Your Life: Coherence between Values and Actions

Have you ever been under the impression that you aren’t moving in the right direction, are not doing what you would like, or that your life has lost its meaning? Something is wrong but you can’t quite put your finger on it.
The exercise I propose today is to ask yourself what your values are and how you can take action so that your life and choices reflect what is truly important to you.

But First, What Are Values?

Values give meaning and direction to our existence, and shape our ways of being and acting. They are an integral part of who we are and guide us through our daily lives, ours decisions, our actions and our relationships. They can originate from within or be transmitted to us.
Values are also in constant evolution; they are not static but rather evolve according to our life experiences. The exercise I am proposing here is but a snapshot in time.

What Is Important to Me, Right Now

When your life is not in line with your values, you can often feel a deep powerlessness or discomfort. To get through it, the first step is to reflect on what is important to you. In order to list your values, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is important to me?
  • What drives me to make decisions or take action?
  • What do I admire in others?
  • What is it that bothers me, or that I can’t stand in others?

It is important to do this exercise honestly and not to make a generic list of what you would like to possess. Identify 7 values that are essential to you at the moment. To avoid a blank page, here are some examples:

  • Respect
  • Surpassing yourself
  • Perseverance
  • Generosity
  • Friendship, Justice
  • Creativity
  • Compassion
  • Freedom
  • Curiosity
  • Health
  • Open-mindedness
  • Sharing
  • Pleasure
  • Determination
  • Authenticity
  • Efficiency
  • Balance
  • Patience
  • Humour
  • Rigour
  • Family

Walking the Talk

Once you’ve determined what is important to you, you can take your life back into your own hands, make decisions and act according to what is most dear to you. At this stage, it’s important to take stock by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How am I applying these values to my life today?
  • Are my actions reflecting my values?

If some of your life choices don’t align with your values, you must reflect on what you can do to narrow the gap. For example, if one of your values is prioritizing the balance between work and family and you have been spending too much time working or travelling, you will need to evaluate different scenarios: finding work closer to home, working part-time, changing careers or even taking a break from work altogether. The important thing to do here is to weigh all possible options, even if they seem impossible, because people have a tendency to set limits for themselves that exist only in their own heads. Continuing with the same example, what would be the real impact of taking a break from work for a few years or temporarily changing careers to achieve better balance? If you’re thinking: “that option is impossible,” ask yourself why it’s impossible and try to refute each argument. Face your fears and dare to venture where you never thought you could go. What if you gave yourself the permission to imagine a different life for yourself?

Finally…

Aligning actions with personal values is essential to one’s happiness. Having coherence between the two will allow you to, among other things:

  • Feel in harmony with yourself
  • Improve your self-esteem by daring to be yourself
  • Prioritize your actions and/or make easier decisions
  • Eliminate many negative feelings that cause internal conflicts, such as stress and feeling like you don’t belong
  • Get rid of limiting beliefs

This approach aims to help you get to know yourself better and take stock of your life choices. Do this exercise for you and you only. Happy thinking!

About the author

Sophie is an organizational development consultant, and partner at Les Alchimistes Conseils.

More info about Sophie

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